New Articles

Profiles: Iran’s Jailed Human Rights Lawyers

July 15, 2020
Updated: December 14, 2020
Since February 2018, Iran has imprisoned at least nine prominent human rights lawyers who were representing activists, dissidents or political prisoners, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran. Others have been subject to harassment or faced shorter detentions. Amnesty International…

Iran Nuclear Deal at Five

July 15, 2020
On July 14, 2020, Iran and the six major world powers - Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States - marked the fifth anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The landmark arms control agreement, reached in 2015, limited Tehran's nuclear program in exchange…

Part 4: The IRGC versus the Modernizers

July 14, 2020
Iran’s leaders are currently grappling with three key questions that are directly relevant to European interests. The first of these questions concerns how to rescue the economy and the role the West can and should play in this. The second centres on whether Tehran should engage in any form of…

Part 3: What Prospects for Diplomacy?

July 14, 2020
Iran’s leaders are currently grappling with three key questions that are directly relevant to European interests. The first of these questions concerns how to rescue the economy and the role the West can and should play in this. The second centres on whether Tehran should engage in any form of…

Part 1: Reviving the Revolutionaries

July 14, 2020
What are the main power blocs shaping decisions in Iran? While the supreme leader is the ultimate decision-maker in Iran, three main groups operate within the nezam [system] framework: the ‘modernisers’; a political faction formally calling itself the ‘Principlists’; and ‘securocrats’. These…

Part 2: Rival Factions on the Economy

July 14, 2020
Iran’s leaders are currently grappling with three key questions that are directly relevant to European interests. The first of these questions concerns how to rescue the economy and the role the West can and should play in this. The second centres on whether Tehran should engage in any form of…

Part 1: Mysterious Explosions Rock Iran

July 10, 2020
Updated: October 13, 2020
Beginning in June 2020, Iran experienced a notable string of explosions, fires and industrial accidents. The damaged sites included Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz, a missile plant in Khojir, the power grid in Shiraz and a chemical plant in Mahshahr. The most destructive incident was an explosion…

UN: Soleimani Killing “Unlawful”

July 10, 2020
The U.S. killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on January 3 was “unlawful,” according to Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial and summary executions. The investigator said that the United States failed to provide evidence of an imminent attack that could have…

U.S. Seizes Iranian Weapons on Way to Yemen

July 10, 2020
On July 8, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that U.S. and partner forces had seized Iranian arms bound for Houthi rebels in Yemen. The weapons – including 200 rocket-propelled grenades, more than 1,700 AK rifles and various types of missiles – were found on a boat off the coast of Yemen on…

Part 3: Iranian Media on COVID-19 Surge

July 8, 2020
Updated: December 2, 2020
In June, Iranian newspapers covered the challenges of reopening subways and other public places that get crowded. They highlighted warnings from officials to take precautions when out in public. “We Haven’t Defeated Corona: [President Hassan] Rouhani Warns Restrictions May Return,” read Ebtekar.…

Part 3: Iran's Surge in COVID-19 Cases

July 7, 2020
Updated: October 6, 2020
Iran experienced a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases in early June following the gradual reopening of businesses, mosques, schools and government offices in April and May. On June 2, Health Minister Saeed Namaki expressed concern that Iranians had become "completely careless" with health…

News Digest: Week of July 6

July 6, 2020
July 6 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 204,083 cases, including 11,731 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said that 191,487 Iranians had recovered from the virus. Health: Iran banned the export of face masks amid an uptick in COVID-19 infections. "…

Hardliners Boo Zarif in Parliament

July 6, 2020
On July 5, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared before Iran’s new parliament, where conservative factions have assumed the majority over reformers and centrists, to discuss foreign policy and the economic challenges triggered by U.S. sanctions. The session quickly became personal. Several…

Iran’s Arsenal of Cruise Missiles

July 6, 2020
Since 2004, Iran has developed cruise missiles capable of targeting U.S. ships, foreign oil tankers and the fleets of Arab allies in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. Its arsenal of anti-ship missiles has changed the balance of naval power between Iran’s conventional navy – which is comprised of small…

Profiles: Iranian Opposition Groups

July 2, 2020
Iranian opposition groups reflect diverse political grievances, ethnic tensions, and ideological trends. The regime’s most visible opponents are partially or entirely based outside Iran. Their goals are either regime change or self-determination for an ethnic group inside Iran. The government has…

Masks Mandatory in Iran—Five Months Late

July 1, 2020
Updated: July 7, 2020
Almost five months after the first reported COVID-19 deaths, Iran made masks mandatory at all indoor gatherings from July 5 until July 22. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged citizens to wear face coverings to stem a second wave of COVID-19 infections. He called on government officials to…

Part 4: Pompeo, Zarif Spar on U.N. Arms Embargo

June 30, 2020
On June 30, 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif clashed over the future of the U.N. conventional arms embargo on Iran, which was set to expire in October. The two officials spoke at a virtual meeting of the Security Council convened to debate whether to…

News Digest: Week of June 29

June 29, 2020
June 29 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 225,205 cases and 10,670 deaths, including 162 new fatalities, from COVID-19. It was the highest daily death toll in Iran since April 4, when the country reported 158 new deaths. Justice: Iran asked Interpol to enforce an arrest warrant for…

U.S. Report on Human Trafficking in Iran

June 26, 2020
In 2019 and 2020, Iran failed to prevent human trafficking, prosecute its perpetrators or protect victims, the State Department said in the annual report released on June 25, 2020. Iranian officials often condoned crimes. They were also involved in recruiting children to fight for Iranian-led…

U.S. Sanctions Iran’s Metal Industry

June 25, 2020
On June 25, the United States sanctioned four companies in Iran’s metals sector, a key source of export revenue for the regime. The Treasury Department also sanctioned four sales agents—one based in Germany and three based in the United Arab Emirates—that are owned or controlled by Mobarakeh Steel…

U.S. Report: Iran’s Support for Terrorism

June 24, 2020
In 2019, Iran supported terrorist organizations across the Middle East, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiite groups in Iraq and Palestinian groups in Gaza, the State Department said in the annual report on terrorism released on June 24, 2020. The report also accused Tehran of helping the Assad…

Iran’s Ambitious Space Program

June 23, 2020
Updated: September 16, 2020
Since 2003, Iran’s space program has steadily evolved – from a limited initiative to launch research satellites into a more ambitious project to enhance space reconnaissance capabilities and test military rockets. The program, still in its adolescence, has progressed through three phases: research…

News Digest: Week of June 22

June 22, 2020
Updated: June 24, 2020
June 22 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 207,525 cases of COVID-19, including 9,742 deaths. Health Minister Namaki said that 87 percent of Iranians who had died from COVID-19 were obese or had underlying medical issues.  Health/Education: Education Minister Mohsen Haji Mirzaei announced…

Iran Obstructing IAEA Investigation

June 22, 2020
Updated: June 24, 2020
On June 19, the U.N. nuclear watchdog and the United States rebuked Iran for denying access to two suspect sites where it may have used or stored undeclared nuclear material. The resolution, which passed 25 to 2 with seven abstentions, called on Iran to fully cooperate with an investigation into…

Iran’s Defense Spending

June 17, 2020
How much does Iran spend on its military? How has defense spending changed over the past two decades? Between 2015 and 2019, Iran annually spent 4 percent to 5 percent—or $18 billion to $22 billion—of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense. Defense spending was around $18.4 billion in 2019,…

U.S. Hostage Accountability Act

June 16, 2020
On June 15, the Senate unanimously approved the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act (S.712). The bipartisan legislation aims to strengthen U.S. government efforts to repatriate Americans held hostage or unlawfully detained abroad. It would establish a Special…

News Digest: Week of June 15

June 15, 2020
June 15 Health: Iran recorded 189,876 cases of COVID-19, including 8,950 deaths. Government spokesman Ali Rabiei warned that Iran may have to reimpose restrictions after a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths. “In the (Tehran) subway, although 90 percent of passengers use masks, social…

CENTCOM: Iran Recalculating Strategy on U.S.

June 12, 2020
In response to U.S. strikes on Iran, the Islamic Republic has revised its tactics in dealing with the U.S. military in the Middle East, according to General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of U.S. Central Command. “Right now, we're in a period of what I would call ‘contested deterrence’ with Iran…

Part 3: Europe, China and Russia on U.N. Arms Embargo on Iran

June 12, 2020
Updated: June 29, 2020
In early 2020, Europe, China and Russia rejected the Trump administration’s initiative to extend the U.N. arms embargo on Iran. The disagreement deepened the divide among the six major world powers – Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States – that negotiated the Iran nuclear…

U.S. Report on Religious Freedom in Iran

June 10, 2020
Iran’s government has continued to imprison, harass and intimidate people based on religious beliefs, according to an annual State Department report on religious freedom released on June 10. At least 90 percent of Iran’s population is Shiite. In 2019, religious minorities, such as Sunni Muslims and…